Among the refrains we hear from Israelis, overseas friends, and those sitting on the fence is that Israel (the government and the people) do not do enough to explain themselves.
The sounds of Israeli efforts to explain themselves are deafening to those who bother to listen.
Also heard are Palestinian complaints that world public opinion is against them, and that governments, the UN or other international organizations do not do enough to help them.
Whose allegation is more foolish?
Both miss the point of what is happening.
Sensitive souls we all are, concerned that others will understand our plights and provide support.
Alas, almost everyone is in business for themselves, with limited effort directed at others.
One has to do this analysis by impression and anecdote.
My impression is that lots of people support the Palestinian cause, but that they are mostly Muslims, the young and those others without significant power who are likely to sign on to anything that claims to help the weak and disadvantaged. Also in the Palestinian corner are international organizations tilted toward the votes of numerous Third World governments, and the organizations funded by those committed to help the weak.
We see pictures of people who patrol supermarket aisles and trash products they identify as coming from Israel, and supermarket managers who find it easiest to avoid anything with an Israeli source.
Israeli academics may have more trouble than others insofar as the worthies who screen professional articles for publication and decide who to invite to conferences include ideologues who view Israelis as treif.
On the other hand, the Technion recently received sizable grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and from an individual American Jewish philanthropist. Microsoft, Google, Intel, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Apple, and Samsung are among the international companies that have laboratories for research and development in Israel.
You say Israelis do not work enough at explaining themselves?
Jews have been literate since David, and have spent a good part of their intellectual energies explaining themselves.
Take another look at the Hebrew Bible. If that is not a considerable effort to explain and justify Jews in their struggles with others, then one of us does not know how to read.
Israelis and overseas Jews are prominent in writing blogs, op-ed items in major newspapers, and organizing students, academics, and other groups to counter those organized by the Palestinians.
The noise of neither cluster drowns out the other. Both may be doing little more than preaching to their choirs, or providing the already committed further encouragement and additional reasons to stand their ground.
Currently an international group of individuals with impressive military and diplomatic credentials from the US, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Australia, Colombia, and Holland have given high marks to the IDF performance for its 2014 Gaza operation. They defined the operation as a justified defensive measure against attacks on Israeli civilians, and credited Israel's military with unusual concern to operate according to international law and avoid civilian casualties. In contrast, the group criticized the actions of Hamas and other Palestinian groups for exploiting their own civilians for military purposes. The group was brought together by UN Watch, a nongovernmental organization created two decades ago by Jews and others to monitor the biases apparent in the official actions of UN organizations.
Those wanting to slog through an exhaustive 270 page report on the Gaza operation by the Government of Israel can click on this.
These reports will not be the end of discussion. Indeed, the timing of the UN Watch report and that of the Israeli Government are meant to counter the coming publication of a report linked to the UN Human Rights Council. It is widely expected to condemn Israeli actions.
The UN's initial effort suffered a defeat at the hands of Israeli officials and friends, who revealed that the man selected as chair of the inquiry--William Schabas, a Canadian Jew and law professor--had been employed as a legal adviser by the PLO. Skeptics saw the UNHRC as trying again to get an anti-Israeli Jew to provide a certificate of kashrut for an anti-Israeli report. The South African Richard Goldstone played that role on the UNHRC report about the Gaza war of 2008-09. The Goldstone report found evidence that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes. Perhaps due to widespread attacks by Jews and others, Goldstone backed off from key allegations against Israel.
Schabas resigned from the most recent UNHRC effort when his ties to the PLO became apparent, but few expect a report that is anything other than a condemnation of Israel.
There was no surprise in Palestinian responses to pro-Israel reports.
- “Israeli war crimes are clear because they were committed in front of live cameras,”
- “Israel’s decision to deny having targeted civilians in Gaza is the logical extension of what it did in the Gaza Strip,”
If you accept Ha'aretz as part of the Israeli establishment, you might question or applaud its criticism of Israeli efforts to counter criticism.
The editorial response carries the headline, "Israeli report on Gaza war: Ineffective PR"
Its lead paragraph
"Hundreds of hours of work by attorneys, diplomats and officers were invested in the 270-page Israeli report on Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. The result was a comprehensive, detailed and well-formulated document. And yet, the report’s efficacy is dubious. It would be no exaggeration to say that its impact on Israel’s international standing, its legal position and its public image will barely be felt."
The paper's argument is that Israel should have cooperated with the UN body, rather than dismiss its activities as a lost cause.
It final paragraph will convince critics of Ha'aretz that the paper's posture is a knee jerk reaction to anything associated with Prime Minister Netanyahu.
There are many who say that Jews' lack of unity is our major weakness in dealing with antagonists and enemies."But the most serious problem about the Israeli report released Sunday is that it suffers from the same problem that Israeli government policy has suffered ever since Benjamin Netanyahu entered the prime minister’s office in 2009. Over the past six years, it seems Netanyahu and his people are trying to solve every diplomatic problem Israel faces by finding a clever, winning argument that will persuade the world that Israel is right. But the way to gain the world’s support is by acting, not talking. An Israeli diplomatic initiative to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip in cooperation with the international community would have worked better than any report."
I'll sign on with those who say that Jews' self-criticism and willingness to argue it is our major strength in preserving the place among the civilized, acquired for us by our argumentative ancestors.
No victory in this dispute with the Palestinians is on the horizon.
They are stuck with excessive demands, and they ain't gonna get them.
We ain't gonna get applause from the world's majority, and Hatikva will not become the world's anthem.
But we're living well. Those committed to our destruction are fighting one another.
That should be enough.
If it isn't, I suggest a chorus of oy gevalt.